Across the nation, businesses and their employees continue to absorb the high costs of healthcare, with little to no relief in sight. The average annual health insurance premium reached $6,896 for individual employees and $19,616 for families, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Education Trust. Employees are paying higher deductibles and copays, while premiums increase for employers just trying to provide this basic employment benefit. Consequently, employers and employees are highly motivated in their efforts to control costs.
Why continue to cut benefits or shift costs to employees? Consider investing in a comprehensive workplace wellness program as a means to mitigate out-of-control healthcare costs. A fully-implemented and well-designed program can attract new talent, retain good employees, reduce absenteeism, improve employee productivity, and decrease workers’ compensation claims.
Having an annual health fair, providing an occasional health class, or emailing newsletters with health information without follow-up are not enough by themselves to keep health-related costs from climbing. To ensure positive results from a wellness program, it’s essential for companies to implement well-managed programs with comprehensive and effective interventions (health coaching) focused on behavioral changes.
Just as in the past, companies who do not provide comprehensive wellness programs generally don’t see a positive return on investment (ROI). “If you are going to add a compressive wellness program to your company, its effectiveness and ROI will be directly tied to the leadership of the organization to make it part of their culture. ROI will not only be measured in terms of healthcare cost savings, but lower absenteeism and higher productivity,” said Dennis Kadel, Sr. Vice President of Benefits for The Miller Group.
The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) recommends employers invest at least $100-150 per employee on comprehensive wellness plans annually to achieve the average return of $4.00 for every $1.00 allocated toward proactive efforts. Recent statistics demonstrate individuals who have high blood pressure increase the annual expenditures in your health plan by $733 on average. Obese individuals or those with Type 2 diabetes average approximately $2,100 in additional expenses. Companies can cut costs dramatically by educating and empowering employees to take control of their health and make better life choices, resulting in long-term positive results. Employees are your best asset — invest wisely.
All companies have a choice: take a reactive approach to healthcare — paying for health problems after they develop and continue to watch healthcare costs soar, or take a proactive approach — investing in the health education of employees. The proactive wellness approach clearly makes good business sense for employees and employers. Employees are more content and less likely to invoke the long-term impact of poor life choices on both their longevity and the company’s bottom line. When a finely-tuned, comprehensive workplace wellness plan is in place, everyone wins!
// Kim Bentley, M.Ed., NDTR, CHES
Director, Health and Wellness